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Thursday, August 22, 2019

PROTECTING YOUR PASSWORDS - Learn how people are stealing them!

The following article was sent to me by Chris Jones @turnonVPN. Since it fits so well into what this blog is about I am glad to share it with you. 


Monday, July 29, 2019

HAVING DISCOMFORT USING YOUR COMPUTER?

5 THINGS TO ADJUST IF YOU ARE HAVING DISCOMFORT USING YOUR COMPUTER
  1. ADJUST YOUR DISPLAY: Your monitor should be at eye level.  Sit back in your chair and point with your right hand. If it is not at the center of the screen you may want to make adjustments.
  2. dual monitorsUSE TWO MONITORS: If you do work with lots of data or creative work you can expand your view size by using two monitors. Second hand monitors are cheap and tough to recycle, so this is a good use for them. You can plug both monitors into the same computer and they will act like one!
  3. KEYBOARD AND MOUSE PLACEMENT: The ideal height of a keyboard is two inches above your knees. If you have to bend your wrists in order to type you can become injured with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Your mouse should be easy to reach and not cause you to bend over in order to use it.
  4. OFFICE CHAIRS AND DESKS: You should be able to sit comfortably with no compression of the thighs. Your feet should be flat on the floor and there should be at least 1 inch of space around your hips and thighs. The best Stand Up desks allow both standing and sitting since it is movement that is most beneficial.
  5. people bent over smartphonesSMARTPHONE POSITIONING: The well known posture of bending over a Smartphone is not a good practice. Instead hold your phone at near eye-level. Notice one person in this picture doing it right!

A FEW MORE PASSWORD THOUGHTS



NEW PASSWORD RECOMMENDATIONS
Password If you are like many people and prefer NOT to use a Password Vault (Dashlane is what I use) and struggle with remembering all of those passwords you might really like this advice. The newest advice that I have read urges user friendliness.

The new recommendations call passwords "Memorized Secrets" and encourage long passphrases rather than complex short passwords. It is still good to use special characters like !, @, #, $, %.  Use a whole sentence that you will easily remember. The fact that it is long and has some special characters will make it difficult to crack.

WHAT MAKES A BAD PASSWORD
These are all things I have seen people using! 
  • repetitive words (“passwordpassword”) (often because so many letters are required)
  • sequential strings (“password12345”)
  • variations on the website name (“FacebookPassword)
  • It always surprises me how often when told to use a capital letter people capitalize the first letter in the password or when told to use a symbol put ! (exclamation point) at the end or a number and put 1 at the end. Now that I have seen it so often I would build that into my password-breaking program if I was a geek.
On another note, what really matters is WHAT you are protecting. If you are online quite a bit and even pay bills or do banking you REALLY need to be careful. If you rarely use your computer and never do anything financial it is less important.

PASSWORDS AND THE END OF LIFE
Thinking ahead is important and since so much of our lives are online right now it is important to be prepared for what will happen with all of your accounts at the end of your life. Is there someone who will have to access some password protected sites after you are gone.
emergency contact

Start keeping a log book with passwords, preferably in alphabetical order. Or use a password vault. Whatever you do let someone know how to access your passwords when you are gone. This will save someone SO much pain and time later on. Password vaults can be set up with an emergency user. 

THE END OF GOOGLE +



Google Plus LogoYou may have received an email lately with the notice that "you have content in Google+"  
If you didn't even know you had Google+ you may have been concerned about what might be there (wherever there is????).  Google+ is actually Google's attempt at creating an alternative to  Facebook. If you have a gmail address you automatically had a Google+ page. Some people actively added to their pages and used them, but many (maybe even most) didn't use it at all. If you were unaware that you had one I doubt that you have anything on it at all. 

The rest of the warning is here.

"This is a reminder that on April 2, 2019 we’re shutting down consumer Google+ and will begin deleting content from consumer Google+ accounts. Photos and videos from Google+ in your Album Archive and your Google+ pages will also be deleted.
Downloading your Google+ content may take time, so get started before March 31, 2019."

SPAM PHONE CALLS


black dial phoneI know I am getting more and more SPAM phone calls and so I bet you are too. It used to be that whoever it is that does the SPAM calling could only call home phones, but they have figured out how to reach cell phones. You can block numbers on your cell, but they just seem to get another number and call again.


antique wall phoneI have learned that you DO NOT have to answer ANY calls. In fact that may be a good strategy. Your friends will leave a message (or you will see their names pop up on the phone) and you can pick it up or call them back. If you don't recognize the number why take a chance at being scammed? 

Some scammers make you very afraid and you might (by accident) give them information that you do not want them to have. If you do not answer and it is a legitimate number they will leave a message and you can get back to them in a calm thoughtful way.

There are a few other helpful things, but I have found that they don't work ALL of the time. I have ATT and I downloaded an app called "Call Protect". It will notify me if it thinks that a certain call is SPAM by putting a message across the screen where it usually says the name of the caller. It says ATT possible SPAM call. When one of those comes up I either hang up or let it ring until they get my answer message.

Here are steps recommended by CMIT solutions:
  1. Add your number to the Do Not Call Registry which is a Federal list of phone numbers. This is especially effective with landlines.
  2. Block Unfamiliar Numbers
  3. Use Do Not Disturb. The calls will still come in, but they will not interrupt what you are doing. You can filter that so that people you want to call can make contact with you.Stop Phone Scams
  4. Hang up as soon as you know that it is a robocall. If you engage with the robot who does the call it will move on to a real person and it is harder to hang up! Something that I had not thought of is this. "Be careful what you say, too; even automated robocalls can ask a variety of natural-sounding questions like “Can you hear me?” and if you answer “Yes,” that voice signature can be used at a later date to authorize fraudulent charges via telephone."
  5. Look into Apps that block Robocalls.

Searching Tips

SEARCHING

This week it has been occurring to me how often I wonder things and find answers with my computer. I use Chrome as my browser and Google as my search engine. Other browsers are Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox. Common search engines are Bing, Yahoo, and Google.

Just a few examples from this week:

Curiosity
I wondered how many times you can recycle something. I went to Google and typed in "How many times can you recycle plastic?" I learned a lot. If you are interested you may want to check this site out.

https://earth911.com/

Concern
My cat is getting old and didn't seem to be eating much. I typed in "old cat eating". I did get lots of ads for cat food, but among the results was one that gave me the information I wanted.

https://icatcare.org/advice/elderly-cats

Productivity
All sorts of information for my taxes.
Billing Inquiries-checking the details of charges.
I was able to find my Property taxes from last year and print out the statement. I was able to find out how much we paid on Car Insurance, Home Insurance, Cell Phone, and Internet we paid.  It was easy.  I remember digging through file folders trying to find all of those records!  It was so frustrating.

How To
I often look up something I don't know how to do by just writing my question. The best way to do this is to go to YouTube and type in what you want to do. Recently I have learned how to replace my car headlight, what to do about a singing toilet, and how to fold a palm leaf cross.



Translation 
I am taking a Spanish class. Occasionally words come up that even my teacher is not sure how to translate. It is very easy to just type the word and look at the results to find the translation to English.

Reviews
When purchasing almost anything I read a review first. What I always do is type what it is and the word review. If it is technology I try to give as much information as possible, like including the company and model. There are usually several choices in the search results. I find that reading more than one gives me good comparison information, so I can make a good decision.

searching for cat images
Photos
Sometimes the way I start is to type what I am looking for into the Google Search Engine. Then I click on Images so that I only get images. The problem with this is that there are so many results that I cannot use because they are copyrighted. If I limit the results to the ones that are free to use (by clicking on Tools and then choosing Usage-Free for reuse) often there are not very many good images. So, now I start by going to Wikimedia Commons and searching there.

Recipes
So often I have one ingredient that I want to use up and need to find something I can make out of it. I just type Recipe- and the name of the ingredient and get LOTS of options. It is a fun way to find new things to eat!

I was surprised while writing this how many times I use the Internet to search. What about you?

Windows 10 Running Slowly

IS YOUR WINDOWS 10 COMPUTER RUNNING SLOWLY?
Often that is caused by programs or apps that open and run in the background. Or you may be finding that you are short on storage space although that is less likely since Hard Drive Storage is huge these days.

Here is how to check your Hard Drive Storage. 
  1. File ExplorerOpen up the Explorer, the icon on the bottom of your computer screen that looks like a folder.
  2. Click on "This PC" on the left side of the window.
storage on Hard Disk
You will see a thermometer-like rectangle showing how much space total is on your computer and how much free space you have. In my experience it is always amazing how much space you have available. This may not be true for Geeks who tend to use up more computer space than the rest of us!

Here are a few ways that you can free up space if you think that is causing your problem.
  1. Delete Junk Files - Windows 10 has something built in called Storage Sense. To get there click on Settings (the Gear Icon in the Start menu), then System, then Storage. You can set it so that Windows will automatically delete junk files to free up space when it is getting full.
  2. Remove Temporary Files Using Disc Cleanup You get to this the same way as above: Settings, System, Storage, but this time you choose "free up space now" Your computer creates temporary file for many reasons. You may have run out of battery while working and after plugging in found that Word saved a temporary file for you. It can also make your internet faster to have temporary files.
  3. Uninstall Apps and Games you do not need You may have noticed that lots of extra stuff (games and programs) came with your computer. If there are some that you never use or never will you can remove them. To do this go to System, Apps and Features
  4. Free up space by storing files in OneDriveOneDrive is the cloud storage that Microsoft provides for anyone using Windows. If you put files there you can still access them to work on them or print them, but they will not take up too much space on your computer. 
Understanding what is taking up space on your computer can be really helpful. If you want to do this go to Settings, System, Storage and find the "thermometer" that tells you how much Storage Space is free. When you click on it the next window breaks down all of the items on your computer to show what is taking up the most space. When I looked at mine I was shocked to see that System and Reserved, Temporary Files and Apps and Games were taking up 69 Gigabytes of space!!

The information in this article was inspired by
https://www.windowscentral.com/best-7-ways-free-hard-drive-space-windows-10

10 TIPS FOR WINDOWS 10


In January 2020 (only 7 months from now) Microsoft stops supporting Windows 7. Many, maybe most people have switched to Windows 10 by now. But you may be one of many people who have hung onto Windows 7 because you were used to it and you may have heard bad things about Windows 10.

I am sorry to say it is inevitable that you will need to make the switch pretty soon. The problem with staying with Windows 7 is that when it is not supported it can get viruses more easily. There are new viruses every day and they will not be putting out "patches" that protect you from getting a virus. Another problem is that your computer will get slower and slower and eventually you will not be able to use new software because it will require Windows 10.

There is good news though. Since it has been out for several years now most of the glitches have been dealt with. There are still things that some people don't like and it is always an adjustment to work with something that looks different. Here are 10 reasons that you might want to make the change
  1. Timeline - The icon that looks like a strip of film next on the bottom bar is actually a timeline of what you have done recently with your computer. If you forgot what you were working on you can click on this and it will show the last few things that you were working on.
  2. Virtual Desktop - You can create several different desktops that you can switch between. People who like organization can set up their workspace this way. Maybe you have your email open on one desktop and then what you are working on open on a different desktop. You can easily switch between desktops. It sounds like trouble for teachers because savy students can have one thing open for fun on one desktop and their work on another desktop and then switch quickly before the teachers sees what you are really doing.
  3. Cloud Clipboard - Lets you copy text on one PC and paste it onto another!
  4. Nearby Sharing -  Simply right-click a file, select the Share option, and if you have set it up and have bluetooth it will show the other computers nearby. Choose the one that you want to open it in and it will be accessible there!
  5. Storage Sense - I liked the term that the website used "Silent Space Eaters". Your downloads and your trash are two places that can fill up without you thinking about it until your computer slows down. Open the windows menu and choose settings and then system and then storage. You can set up how you want these things automatically set up.
  6. File History - You can set up an external drive and then set Windows 10 to keep copies of what you are working on every hour. That way you can return to an earlier version of a document easily.
  7. Secret Power User Menu - When you right click on anything it opens a new menu with other things to choose. If you right click on the Windows Icon in the left bottom corner you will get a new menu with lots of choices. Maybe this will be a good way for you to get around the computer.
  8. GOD Mode - This is a total GEEK thing and so I am not even going to describe it. If you are interested you can go to the link below.
  9. Dynamic Lock - When you walk away from your PC in a public place or office you can click Windows + L in order to lock the desktop so that no one can get nosy with your computer. Dynamic lock does that without you having to type anything. It ties your phone to your computer so that when you walk away with your phone the computer senses you are gone and locks!
  10. Windows Reliability Monitor - You will have to check out the website to learn more about this. It doesn't sound like something I would use, but maybe it would be helpful to you.

Our World in Data

A VERY INTERESTING WEBSITE
Does it seem to you that all of the information you hear is BAD and getting worse? I just learned of a website that can help give you some perspective on that. It is the Website of a nonprofit run by Oxford University that keeps data on all kinds of things.

According to their own description.
graph showing Childbirth trends"Our World in Data is a non-profit website that brings together the data and research on the powerful, long-run trends reshaping our world: Through interactive data visualizations we show how the world has changed; by summarizing the scientific literature we explain why."

The information that they collect and the graphs are available to anyone and used by government agencies and others to make plans.

 
"It is possible to change the world. In many important ways global living conditions have improved. These facts are surprising to many because it is a widespread belief that the world is stagnating or getting worse. We believe that in our fight against current challenges it is important to know that we have been able to make progress up to now and we should use the opportunity to study in detail how it was possible to improve living conditions in the past."
You can look at their graphs and explanations by topic. Some of the topics are
literacy, life expectancy, income inequality and plastics pollution. There are Many others and they all have very readable explanations.

https://ourworldindata.org

Using Google Docs to work with others

EDITING WITH A GROUP
Track changes is helpful, but what I am really amazed with lately is Google Drive. I am on several boards and on committees that use it. It is a GREAT way to share documents so that multiple people can comment or edit a document without messing up what someone else has done.

When you go to http://drive.google.com you have to sign in with a Google account. You can get one even if you do not want to use gmail. Go to https://accounts.google.com/signup/v2 and either get a gmail account or sign up with your own email address.
signing up for a Google Accountsigning up with your own email



New Google Doc


Once you have a Google account and sign in to Google Drive you can start a new document or go to a document that has been SHARED with you.

shared documents
The person who creates the document is the owner. They can share it and set the permissions for each person who it is shared with.

If you choose File - Version History you will see who revised the document, what they did and when it was done. If you don't like the revision you can return to a previous version!

It is even great when you just want to share documents, but you don't want anyone to change them. When you share the document you just mark that everyone should VIEW only. They will not have the rights to change anything, but can view the document at any time.

This is becoming a very popular way to share documents on a committee or board.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

WHY WOULD I WANT TO USE A SPREADSHEET

At the end of our session last Thursday morning the question came up of why people use spreadsheets. Of course, the first thought is about work. We think of them as charts of numbers and so it is difficult to think of other uses. I suggested having some sessions on it because it is one of the most requested subjects for me. Often it is from people who are returning to work, but I am thinking that somehow people don't feel smart enough to use a spreadsheet. I want to challenge that idea!  They can be VERY complicated and difficult to use, but they can also be pretty straight forward and helpful. Here is a list that I came up with as uses for spreadsheets. I hope it will help you think about how useful they are.
  • Template for anything that has rows and columns - I have example spreadsheetoften used spreadsheets to make lists for printing. One example from life would be a list of names of people in a group I am in that can be used as a checklist for attendance. The example here is a list of activities for the year.
  • List of people - For this business I keep a spreadsheet of clients I work with. The list has first name, last name, address, phone, email. It helps me because I can search the list to find someone from the past.
  • Record Keeping - I also keep a spreadsheet for each week that lists who I see, how much I earn, and what we worked on. I add the amounts up each week and then make a total at the end of the year for taxes.
  • Scheduling - a spreadsheet could be used to create a table that can be printed and edited to schedule tasks and who is assigned to each task. 
  • spreadsheet chartCharts - One of the greatest things about spreadsheets is that you can easily create a chart from the data that is on the spreadsheet. You can create a bar chart, a pie chart, or many other kinds. This is great for comparisons of different things or for demonstrating change over time. I love looking at charts from my financial advisor rather than a table with a bunch of numbers! 
  • Keeping track of your stuff - You could make a list of things you own with items listed, their value, and where to find them. This might be a record for your family.  
  • Making lists of Christmas gifts - This has been helpful to me because I tend to think of the same gifts for the same people and cannot remember if I already gave it to them last year. In the past I have also kept a list of what gifts I received in order to remember to write thank you notes.
  • Planning a trip (comparing prices) - My sister is the spreadsheet queen. She makes a spreadsheet when planning a trip. It lists the different options for flights, and hotels. You could also do this for planning anything like a wedding or any other event.
  • Budgeting - Most of us have a finite amount of money coming in during the month. A spreadsheet is a great way to budget your funds. You can make a list of all of the bills that you have and how much each of them costs. A spreadsheet will allow you to adjust the amounts and the sum will change depending on what the numbers are. 
  • Shared List of Donations for an organization - Many of us volunteer for organizations. One that I am involved with has an event where we collect items for a silent auction. We have a Google Spreadsheet where everyone can collaborate on putting in what is donated and what value it has. We have used it for many years, so it has given us a record of what was donated in the past.
  • Record of physical exercise - Keep track of what weights you lifted on which dates or how many miles you ran or rode your bike.

BENEFITS
Spreadsheets can become a written record for something that occurs regularly. Since they are saved you can have records for many years in the same format. They can also be sorted by column.
temperature chart








If you have a spreadsheet of names and dates they can be sorted either way so that you can find out certain information. Once you create a spreadsheet and put in formulas you can change different numbers in the sheet and the totals (and even the charts) will adjust to the new numbers. You can also make spreadsheets pretty by coloring the backgrounds of cells, including pictures, changing fonts, etc...

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Finding Wifi Anywhere

HOW TO FIND WIFI ANYWHERE YOU GO
I probably should have written this article before the holidays because that is often when you are in new locations and maybe need to find WIFI. The information is very helpful though, so it is still worth writing.

I like to listen to podcasts using my phone, so I learned, the expensive way, that if I am not on WiFi with my phone it is using the cell towers for connecting to the podcast. My cell plan (ATT) charges for a certain number of minutes of data. If I go over they automatically add more time and charge me for it. When I use WiFi it does not cost me anything. Although I could do anything on my phone even when not on WiFi, now I always try to connect to WiFi as often as possible. If you travel with a laptop you already may feel the need for WiFi.

Here are some suggestions from an article linked below:

1. Find a Chain Establishment
The article has a list of places that might be helpful for you. I usually look for a coffee shop. Almost all of them have free WiFi now and they have tea and other things, so you don't have to drink coffee.  There is one important thing to remember - connections at chain establishments are NOT secure. Everyone is using the same free wifi or the same password. Anyone in that place can connect to your computer.

The article suggests that when you use free WiFi you use VPN (virtual private network) for security.  It will allow you to use the free WiFi, but also to be protected. There is more explanation of VPN in the links below.

2. Use WiFi Hotspot Apps
There are several apps that will find WiFi hotspots for you. If you don't know where a public WiFi is you can download an app that will locate them for you. Wiffinity, Wifimapper, Facebook, and Wefi are described in this article.

3.  Go to a Public Shared Space
More and more of these are offering free WiFi. Think of public libraries, metro locations, museums, airports.

4.  Rent a travel WiFi device
You can look companies that do this up online. Some names in the article are RoamingMan, KeepGo, and Skyroam. There are many others. If you have an iPhone compare the cost with using your iPhone as a hotspot.If you use your iPhone it will drain the charge and use Data, but it may be good for some things.

5. Use your Internet Service Provider's (ISP) Hotspots
I looked up the AT&T hotspots from this article at https://www.att.com/esupport/article.html#!/wireless/KM1103818. They do not have a map of locations, but I know I have seen ATTWIFI when I have looked down the list of what networks were available near me. I never tried connecting, but It seems like a great thing! You will need to know your username and password in order to connect to them.

6. Sign Up for a Loyalty Program
Some hotels and stores charge for WiFi, but if you join their Loyalty program you can get WiFi as a benefit. Check it out.


wifi Kansas City7. Find WiFi in your city
Many cities are setting up free wifi in central locations. Here is a link to what they are doing in New York. https://www.link.nyc/ The article also lists Seoul, South Korea; London UK; Paris, France and others. When you travel you can go to Google and type in the name of the city and Wifi and Google should find it if they have it. For example, I just learned that Kansas City has "smart" streetlights! https://www.theverge.com/2016/5/9/11640558/kansas-city-free-public-wifi-smart-streelights-google-sprint-cisco

8.  Join a Community
The article talked about something called Instabridge. This is an app that will connect you to crowdsourced WiFi. These are WiFi services that are shared with the community. They are available to anyone who joins the Instabridge community. The app also allows you to "share your home WiFi with friends and family without giving out your password."

This article also mentioned some solutions which I decided apply more to the Geeks among us, so if you are one you may want to look at the article itself. I did not rewrite them here because I don't think they are particularly user-friendly.




How to find WiFi anywhere
https://www.pandasecurity.com/mediacenter/panda-security/find-wifi/

Learn about VPN
https://www.wikihow.com/Use-a-VPN

How does VPN work on an iPhone
https://www.hotspotshield.com/resources/how-does-vpn-work-on-iphone/